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The sisters Zuzi Yakubovich and Tereza, Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia, 1936

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The sisters Zuzi (Zuzana) Yakubovich (to the left) and Tereza, Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia, 1936

The Oster Visual Documentation Center,  ANU – Museum of the Jewish People, courtesy of Naomi Limo
 

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7898901
Image Purchase: For more details about image purchasing Click here, make sure you have the photo ID number (as appear above)
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Uzhgorod

Ужгород / Uzhhorod; in Hungarian: Ungvar; in Czech: Uzhorod

A town in Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine. Part of Austro-Hungary until 1920, then in Czechoslovakia; between 1938 and 1945 in Hungary; and since then until 1991 in the Soviet Union.

21st Century

In 2005 there were about 600 Jews, mostly elderly, still living in the town and they received support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community. They have a synagogue, Jewish community center, a Jewish Day school and they publish a magazine called Gut Shabbos which covers Jewish activities in the Carpathian Mountains. The nearby Jewish communities of Munkatch, Chust, Vinograda and Rachov participate in their activities. There is a Chabad which run a pre-school and mikvah.

The magnificent synagogue, built in 1904, has served as a concert hall Transcarpathian Philharmonic Hall since WWII. All Jewish symbols were removed from the building, but as of 2012 there is a plaque commemorating the 85,000 Jews from Zakarpattia Oblast murdered in the Holocaust.

 

History

The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, probably dated from the 16th century. There is some controversy about who were the original Jewish settlers. Some say Sephardic Jews came in the fifteenth century, some say survivors of the Chemilnitzki massacres (1648-1649) were the first to settle. At the end of the 1720s, approximately 30 Jewish families lived in the town, which at that time belonged to the Habsburg monarchy. In 1730, they employed Rabbi Bodek Raisman from Lviv who was considered the founder of the local community. In the 18th century, the local Jews lived primarily off winemaking and agriculture; the community was very poor. Jews from Galicia came in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and contributed to the growth of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century a yeshiva was established. Some of the outstanding rabbis, disciples of the Hatam Sofer, of Hungary served in Uzhgorod, notably Rabbi Meir Eisenstadter (Maharam Esh; officiated until 1852), his son Menaḥem Esh (d. 1863), and Ḥayim Tsevi-Hirsh Mannheimer (1814–1886). They also played national roles and had great spiritual influence on Uzhgorod and Hungarian Jewry in general. Solomon Ganzfried, author of the Kitztzur Shulchan Arukh, served as dayyan in 1866.

In 1864 Karl Jaeger established a Hebrew printing press with types bought in Vienna. The first book printed was M. Eisenstadter's Responsa Imrei Esh, (part 2). Printing continued until 1878. In 1926 another press was set up by M. S. Gelles and continued to be active until World War II. About 70 works were printed in Uzhgorod. The city remained a center for the publication of traditional rabbinic works from the 1920s until the Holocaust.

During the Hungarian revolution in 1848–1849, Ungvár sent 14 Jewish men to serve in the army, and the congregation fully equipped a battalion of soldiers.

The concentration of secular intelligentsia, and large numbers of physicians, lawyers, printers, and clerks, contributed to both the rise of Magyar nationalism and the appearance of a more liberal Judaism. However, the efforts of this sector to develop modern education met with determined opposition by the Orthodox. When in the mid-1860s a debate developed around the establishment of a rabbinical seminary, Me’ir Eisenstadt led the opposition successfully. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, government authorities imposed secular schools on the population as part of its Magyarization program. In 1868 the community split to found a separate Neolog community, whose first rabbi was M. Klein, translator of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed into Hungarian. Soon after the establishment of the community, however, most of its members returned to Orthodox Judaism.

At the turn of the 20th century, Hasidism gained significant influence in Uzhgorod. Among the most prominent tzaddikim residing in the town were Yitzchak Teitelboim (1869–1944) and Issachar Ber Lifshitz (1889–1944), as well as the Leifer family (Issachar Ber Leifer and his sons Meir, Chaim Lejb and Reuwen Menachem), representing the Przemyśl dynasty, and Chaim Jakub Safrin of the Zhydachiv dynasty.

In 1890 a Jewish elementary school was established. The language of instruction was first Hungarian and later Czech.  The community also maintained a Talmud torah school and a yeshivah. In 1904 a central synagogue was established in a magnificent building. In 1909, a Chasiddic synagogue was built.  The community was vibrant with three women’s associations, a Jewish hospital, an old people’s home, and a free eatery.

In 1914, the town experienced an influx of thousands of Jewish refugees from Galicia, which had been seized by the Russian army. When the front line approached Uzhgorod, most of the local Jews escaped, but in 1915, when the danger passed, almost all of them returned.

Between the two world wars Uzhgorod became a center of intense Jewish national and Zionist (revisionist) activities. In 1930 the community numbered 7,357, about one-third of the total population.

In 1934, a Hebrew high school was founded; it upheld conservative religious values and encountered only minor rabbinical opposition. After the Hungarian occupation of the region, the high school underwent intensive Magyarization, and in April 1944, with the beginning of deportations to Auschwitz, it closed its doors.

In 1938 the Jewish population was 9,676. They were an important force in the local economy, and many Jewish politicians were elected to the local government. One of the town’s streets was named in honor of Theodore Herzl, and another in honor of local doctor W. London. In 1919, two Jewish primary schools were opened in Uzhgorod, one with Czech as the language of instruction and the other one with Hebrew, followed by a middle school with Yiddish in 1924. A branch of the Zionist Organisation was established in 1919, and in the 1930s the town became one of the centres of the revisionist movement. In the interwar period, the Zsidó Néplap Zionist weekly was published in Uzhgorod.

Before WWII, Uzhgorod was a busy trading center with shops, workshops, restaurants and banks - primarily operated by Jews. The vast majority were employed in small trade and about 25-30% in major and minor commerce. There were also Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jews worked in government offices, health organizations, court houses, banks and cultural institutions. There were also wealthy Jews - the Moskovits family who owned brick factories - and others.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich pact (1938), Uzhgorod was annexed by Hungary, which immediately implemented anti-Jewish legislation. Local Magyars spearheaded the persecution of the Jews in the community. In the winter of 1939/40, all Jews of Polish citizenship or Czech citizens originally from Poland were expelled to Poland, and many died under the severe conditions. The young were conscripted into forced labor and sent to the Russian front, never to return.

With the Nazi occupation in March, 1944, the situation became much worse. On Passover (April 21-23) 1944, all the Jews of Uzhgorod and the surroundings (25,000 persons) were concentrated in a ghetto located outside the town in a brick factory and a lumber yard. There was not enough food or water and there was an outbreak of an epidemic. Three weeks later all were deported to Auschwitz. The first transport left on May 17 and the fifth and last on May 31. 

 

Postwar

Following the war, several hundred survivors returned, but many left for Czechoslovakia and Israel.

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Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
The sisters Zuzi Yakubovich and Tereza, Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia, 1936

The sisters Zuzi (Zuzana) Yakubovich (to the left) and Tereza, Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia, 1936

The Oster Visual Documentation Center,  ANU – Museum of the Jewish People, courtesy of Naomi Limo
 

Image Purchase: For more details about image purchasing Click here, make sure you have the photo ID number (as appear above)

Uzhgorod

Uzhgorod

Ужгород / Uzhhorod; in Hungarian: Ungvar; in Czech: Uzhorod

A town in Transcarpathian Oblast, Ukraine. Part of Austro-Hungary until 1920, then in Czechoslovakia; between 1938 and 1945 in Hungary; and since then until 1991 in the Soviet Union.

21st Century

In 2005 there were about 600 Jews, mostly elderly, still living in the town and they received support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community. They have a synagogue, Jewish community center, a Jewish Day school and they publish a magazine called Gut Shabbos which covers Jewish activities in the Carpathian Mountains. The nearby Jewish communities of Munkatch, Chust, Vinograda and Rachov participate in their activities. There is a Chabad which run a pre-school and mikvah.

The magnificent synagogue, built in 1904, has served as a concert hall Transcarpathian Philharmonic Hall since WWII. All Jewish symbols were removed from the building, but as of 2012 there is a plaque commemorating the 85,000 Jews from Zakarpattia Oblast murdered in the Holocaust.

 

History

The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, probably dated from the 16th century. There is some controversy about who were the original Jewish settlers. Some say Sephardic Jews came in the fifteenth century, some say survivors of the Chemilnitzki massacres (1648-1649) were the first to settle. At the end of the 1720s, approximately 30 Jewish families lived in the town, which at that time belonged to the Habsburg monarchy. In 1730, they employed Rabbi Bodek Raisman from Lviv who was considered the founder of the local community. In the 18th century, the local Jews lived primarily off winemaking and agriculture; the community was very poor. Jews from Galicia came in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and contributed to the growth of the town.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century a yeshiva was established. Some of the outstanding rabbis, disciples of the Hatam Sofer, of Hungary served in Uzhgorod, notably Rabbi Meir Eisenstadter (Maharam Esh; officiated until 1852), his son Menaḥem Esh (d. 1863), and Ḥayim Tsevi-Hirsh Mannheimer (1814–1886). They also played national roles and had great spiritual influence on Uzhgorod and Hungarian Jewry in general. Solomon Ganzfried, author of the Kitztzur Shulchan Arukh, served as dayyan in 1866.

In 1864 Karl Jaeger established a Hebrew printing press with types bought in Vienna. The first book printed was M. Eisenstadter's Responsa Imrei Esh, (part 2). Printing continued until 1878. In 1926 another press was set up by M. S. Gelles and continued to be active until World War II. About 70 works were printed in Uzhgorod. The city remained a center for the publication of traditional rabbinic works from the 1920s until the Holocaust.

During the Hungarian revolution in 1848–1849, Ungvár sent 14 Jewish men to serve in the army, and the congregation fully equipped a battalion of soldiers.

The concentration of secular intelligentsia, and large numbers of physicians, lawyers, printers, and clerks, contributed to both the rise of Magyar nationalism and the appearance of a more liberal Judaism. However, the efforts of this sector to develop modern education met with determined opposition by the Orthodox. When in the mid-1860s a debate developed around the establishment of a rabbinical seminary, Me’ir Eisenstadt led the opposition successfully. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, government authorities imposed secular schools on the population as part of its Magyarization program. In 1868 the community split to found a separate Neolog community, whose first rabbi was M. Klein, translator of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed into Hungarian. Soon after the establishment of the community, however, most of its members returned to Orthodox Judaism.

At the turn of the 20th century, Hasidism gained significant influence in Uzhgorod. Among the most prominent tzaddikim residing in the town were Yitzchak Teitelboim (1869–1944) and Issachar Ber Lifshitz (1889–1944), as well as the Leifer family (Issachar Ber Leifer and his sons Meir, Chaim Lejb and Reuwen Menachem), representing the Przemyśl dynasty, and Chaim Jakub Safrin of the Zhydachiv dynasty.

In 1890 a Jewish elementary school was established. The language of instruction was first Hungarian and later Czech.  The community also maintained a Talmud torah school and a yeshivah. In 1904 a central synagogue was established in a magnificent building. In 1909, a Chasiddic synagogue was built.  The community was vibrant with three women’s associations, a Jewish hospital, an old people’s home, and a free eatery.

In 1914, the town experienced an influx of thousands of Jewish refugees from Galicia, which had been seized by the Russian army. When the front line approached Uzhgorod, most of the local Jews escaped, but in 1915, when the danger passed, almost all of them returned.

Between the two world wars Uzhgorod became a center of intense Jewish national and Zionist (revisionist) activities. In 1930 the community numbered 7,357, about one-third of the total population.

In 1934, a Hebrew high school was founded; it upheld conservative religious values and encountered only minor rabbinical opposition. After the Hungarian occupation of the region, the high school underwent intensive Magyarization, and in April 1944, with the beginning of deportations to Auschwitz, it closed its doors.

In 1938 the Jewish population was 9,676. They were an important force in the local economy, and many Jewish politicians were elected to the local government. One of the town’s streets was named in honor of Theodore Herzl, and another in honor of local doctor W. London. In 1919, two Jewish primary schools were opened in Uzhgorod, one with Czech as the language of instruction and the other one with Hebrew, followed by a middle school with Yiddish in 1924. A branch of the Zionist Organisation was established in 1919, and in the 1930s the town became one of the centres of the revisionist movement. In the interwar period, the Zsidó Néplap Zionist weekly was published in Uzhgorod.

Before WWII, Uzhgorod was a busy trading center with shops, workshops, restaurants and banks - primarily operated by Jews. The vast majority were employed in small trade and about 25-30% in major and minor commerce. There were also Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jews worked in government offices, health organizations, court houses, banks and cultural institutions. There were also wealthy Jews - the Moskovits family who owned brick factories - and others.

 

The Holocaust

Following the Munich pact (1938), Uzhgorod was annexed by Hungary, which immediately implemented anti-Jewish legislation. Local Magyars spearheaded the persecution of the Jews in the community. In the winter of 1939/40, all Jews of Polish citizenship or Czech citizens originally from Poland were expelled to Poland, and many died under the severe conditions. The young were conscripted into forced labor and sent to the Russian front, never to return.

With the Nazi occupation in March, 1944, the situation became much worse. On Passover (April 21-23) 1944, all the Jews of Uzhgorod and the surroundings (25,000 persons) were concentrated in a ghetto located outside the town in a brick factory and a lumber yard. There was not enough food or water and there was an outbreak of an epidemic. Three weeks later all were deported to Auschwitz. The first transport left on May 17 and the fifth and last on May 31. 

 

Postwar

Following the war, several hundred survivors returned, but many left for Czechoslovakia and Israel.